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January 31, 2008

Stubborn Man Syndrome

by Nancy

You've heard of PMS, of course.  Well, TLC readers, today we're talking about SMS--that well-known, but rarely discussed and no-apologies sexist condition known as as Stubborn Man Syndrome.

I present these week's case: My neighbor, Chris, thought he was  having a heart attack.  Fortunately, it turned out to be a nasty case of shingles. How did he discover the real diagnosis, you ask? By going to the emergency room to get a cardiologist's opinion on the possible heart attack? No, he waited TWO MORE DAYS until the rash really broke out, and then he went to the nurse practitioner at the local pharmacy who confirmed the shingles and gave him appropriate meds.  BUT HE NEVER SAW A DOCTOR ABOUT THE POSSIBLE HEART ATTACK.

Therefore, I submit for your approval, the foremost symptom of Stubborn Man Syndrome: (1.) the unshakable belief in his own immortality. The Stubborn Man is indestructible.

A sub-symptom is (1b.) the refusal to seek medical attention.  Last week's case?  My contractor, Rick, returned to my home to attend to a few items on the kitchen rehab punchlist.  Except Rick was essentially unable to do the work because he'd earlier shot himself in the hand with a nail gun. Was he rendered helpless because his hand was bandaged, splinted, slathered with antibiotics? No, silly reader, he was unable to use his hand BECAUSE HE REFUSED TO GO TO THE DOCTOR AND WAS WAITING FOR HIS HAND TO REPAIR ITSELF.

Another common symptom of SMS is (2.) the reluctance to take advice from any female, particularly a spouse.  Example: On a typical Sunday evening at 7pm, when the thermometer still reads a balmy 28 degrees, do you say to my--er--your husband, "Honey, why don't you take the trash to the curb before the blizzard starts?" The answer:  "No.  No, no, no, no and NO."  Why? Because taking care of the trash early goes against the husband's Sunday routine.  It would require him getting up from the sofa three  hours earlier than necessary. But you, wise reader, can write the scene that takes place at 11pm:  With the wind blasting needles of snow and the driveway freezing into an urban ice rink, he skates the trash can to the curb, cussing and swearing, then returns to the back porch to discover he's locked himself out of the house.  And guess who must climb out of bed, scramble downstairs to the sound of door pounding to let in the Stubborn Man?

(3.)  Possession-related stubbornness is our next symptom:  You say your father wore the same bathrobe for 50 years?  Your brother refuses to give up the beer mug he received as a fraternity pledge in 1979? Bingo--SMS.

Yes, Alexander the Great is one of the earliest documented cases of SMS. He conquered the world for reasons not entirely understood except by Alex himself and maybe his court-appointed therapist, and he died at the age of 32.  (I'm guessing his cause of death was a heart attack that he figured would cure itself.) But I'm thinking maybe he also presented with one of the primary manifestations of the syndrome---(4.) the refusal to ask directions. I'm sure each and every one of you has many, many examples of this symptom, so I won't bother to list further cases.

Christopher Columbus is another early-known Stubborn Man.  He exhibited one of the primary symptoms---(5.) the firm belief that he is absolutely right despite generally accepted thinking to the contrary.

"Christopher, baby, the world is flat!" cried all his friends.

"I think I'll go take a look anyway," he replied, stocking a few barrels with salt pork, some stale biscuits and a couple of live chickens before setting off in a very small boat in lousy weather. Do you think he had really studied the stars? Done the math? Scribbled a bunch of planetary algorithms on a napkin? Of course not. He simply had a really bad case of SMS.

Henry Hudson, Sir Walter Raleigh, Magellan, Marco Polo? All Stubborn Men. Likewise, the various leaders of those crazy Crusades to the Holy Lands. Wouldn't sane men have stayed home, maybe learned to brew some mead and chase a few wenches? Perhaps trained a falcon or a couple of nice hunting dogs? Learned to upholster a tapestry?  Not if under the influence of SMS. Likewise, Sir Edmund Hillary was surely suffering from SMS, but at least he had Tenzing Norgay along to keep him alive on that mountain. Or did Tenzing have a suppressed case, too?

Yes, there's a lot to be said for the courage and determination of great exploreres.  Take those early pioneers who drove their Connestoga wagons across a continent.  Would we have, say, California, if not for them?  And they are no doubt relatives of our first nutcases---er, scientists at NASA who wanted to get a closer look at the moon, right?

Of course, other manifestations of the syndrome include The Candidate Who Will Not Quit Despite No Chance Of Winning The Election.  Not to mention The Politician Who Will Not Read A Newspaper or Watch Any TV But Fox News.

I know, I know. Wise asses among you are asking: But, Nancy, would our glorious civilization be where we are today without SMS? Well, here's an expert who theorizes that women had a lot to do with progress, too, at least when it came to military efforts. (I always thought camp followers were making a living turning sexual favors, but it seems I was poorly informed.)

Is SMS always a bad thing?

Not always.  My dad bought INTEL before anybody know what a personal computer was.  He refused to sell.  Thank heavens.

Is there a cure for this affliction? Have you discovered a way to turn your obstinate mate away from the path he's chosen? If you've found a way to get the bulldog to loosen his jaw, please share.

But for today, I welcome all further manifestations of Stubborn Man Syndrome.  Gimme your best examples, please. What symptoms have I neglected to list?


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No matter what illness he has, it is worse than whatever illness you had, ever. You had a broken leg? His cold is worse. Surgery for an ulcer? He had a stomach ache once from too many buffalo wings.

Yea, yea, yea, this is all fascinating, but you know what's really interesting? When someone gets a starred review in Library Journal:

Martin, Nancy. Murder Melts in Your Mouth: A Blackbird Sisters Mystery.

Nora Blackbird (Have Your Cake and Kill Him Too) rushes to the aid of her best friend, Lexie Paine, when her business partner falls to his death from their office balcony. The trouble is that many of Philadelphia's blue bloods have been fleeced by Hoyt Cavendish, the dead man, and soon Nora must add her own parents to the list. Hilarious repartee and zany characters move the story along, but Martin never loses sight of the seriousness of death. The good news is that the entire Blackbird family is reunited in this volume. Martin is an outstanding mystery author who deserves more recognition and attention than she currently receives. If your patrons enjoy chick-lit mysteries featuring female sleuths who deal with their problems in unusual ways with a good belly laugh or two along the way (think Janet Evanovich and Lisa Scottoline), this excellent series is for your collection. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 11/1/07.]

Scroll down a little to see it online:

Wonderful blog,nancy.and so true!

My mother invented a way to get rid of all those ancient things my father refused to throw away:she threw away the thing she hated the most and then bought a new item to replace the old one.she tried to find item that looked exactly like the old one my dad loved so much and since my dad doesn't really pay so much attention on his stuff, sometimes he didn't even notice that the hat he was wearing wasn't the same one he had worn for 20 years...

another thing i've noticed is that when men are sick,they really are SICK!a little flu and even the strongest man behaves as if he was on the verge of death.there's a reason why men don't give birth.My friend had a baby just the other day and her husband was first to admit that childbirth isn't human and he never could've done that.i salute him!

I had to physically wrestle the keys out of my husband's hands when he insisted he could drive himself to the emergency room when he was having a gall bladder attack.

And Josh is totally on track with the illness thing. Except my husband has to lay there and actually moan. Frequently. Until I have to restrain myself from smothering him with the pillow.

Oh, and congrats on the review, Nancy. :)

SMS symptom: The refusal to let anyone else drive the car, anytime, anywhere. (I didn't have space to include that one.)

Thank you, Ramona! This is the first time I can remember getting a starred review. But somebody is going to have to interpret that particular review for me, please. Should I have done something differently??

Oh, and congrats on the review, Nancy. :)

Oh, and congrats on the review, Nancy. :)

You need somebody to interpret this review? Okay -- THEY LOVE YOU!!! Fantastic and well-deserved. Every reader of this blog should rush out and buy this book.

I agree with every symptom of SMS you list above. Great blog!

SMS Symptoms:

Any type of home repair job requires 7 trips to Home Depot. Minimum.

Any type of home repair job requires losing at least one important piece of equipment (such as, a hammer, but not just any hammer, the particular hammer invented for this particular job) which results in 30 seconds of looking, followed by a trip to Home Depot to buy a new one.

Any type of home repair job requires at least one argument with your wife about always buying a new hammer rather than looking for the existing, paid-for one, followed by a soothing trip to Home Depot to cool off.

Any type of home repair job requires at least one stapler, shoe or brick, used by wife to hammer in whatever needs to be hammered in, because honest-to-god, all a hammer really is is a flat thing you can pound with, which is done while Stubborn Man is at Home Depot.

Any type of home repair job requires extra time because Home Depot will invariably not stock whatever it is Stubborn Man needs, so he will go to the new, bigger Home Depot, but he will get lost on the way there, and refuse to ask directions, because Stubborn Man never does that.

I'm so sorry, I have no idea why that comment keeps showing up. I'm backing away from the computer now.

Not that Nancy doesn't deserve many congrats. :)

Here's a symptom I've observed. Men always think they look hot. And the less hot they are, the more they think the world needs to see their abs (read: beer belly). These are the same men who think speedos make them look sexy.

I've said it before; I wouldn't put up with me for six months. The Boss has done it for 22+ years.

Talk about Stubborn....:)

Ramona, I ruined my favorite CutCo knife (guaranteed not to break) by pounding in something while my stubborn man was at the Home Depot!

Judy, you cracked me up on the looking hot symptom. After a certain age, I think that symptom dissipates.

We could only wish that symptom goes away, Nancy. Clearly, you've never been to a beach in Florida. The scariest thing I've ever seen is an ancient, blobbly man in a thong-type Speedo on the beach.

Nancy and Ramona, I've been laughing like crazy at your observations; they are so true. But after 26 years of marriage, I've learned to do, and how to do, all that kind of stuff myself, or call in an expert. My dear, dear husband used to attempt to fix things. They worked, but there were always these mysterious "extra" parts left over. It got to be the family joke, that DH could streamline any engineered design. Now I don't let him touch things, and I hang all pictures, paint all surfaces, and drill all holes my own self.

Congratulations on the review! Mazel tov.

Great topic, Nancy.

That review is outstanding, and right on target! Congratulations.

Mazeltov on the review, Nancy - cannot WAIT to get my hands on that book!

As far as SMS - please. Have you seen the commercial where the couple pulls in to the bank drive-through, and even though the sign (and the woman) clearly state that you're not supposed to put coins in the cylindrical thing, the guy does it anyway -- only to have the equivalent of an explosion take place when the thing hits the bank? So freaking typical!

Nancy, you're a genius. And congrats on the review!

Ramona, good thing I wasn't trying to drink anything when I read your comments :)

I think another symptom is that the Stubborn Man always does things His Way, even though (or perhaps especially when) his adoring spouse explains that there are at least 3 other ways that are simpler, faster, more effective, and less expensive . . . .

Nancy, wonderful review! (I don't know what part needs "interpreting" -- it's glowing!)
I'm putting it on my "treat" list, to be enjoyed when I've done the reading for my book clubs and given away some of the books in this overstuffed condo. I've made a decision to buy a real house (no more smoke from condo neighbors) and while friends have offered to help with the move, I think lightening the load might be in order. New house will be right next to the Y, which should help in maintenance. (A classic chassis requires more care. The new PT's myofascial release techniques are working also; pains I'd lived with for months/years are vanishing).
As for -- Any type of home repair job requires at least one argument with your wife about always buying a new hammer rather than looking for the existing, paid-for one, -- I would never be able to fault that one. I've gotten books from the library that I KNOW I own but can't find. The library's books are so much better organized than mine are. Perhaps when I move, I'll reshelf with a plan??

Latex Info -- I'm going to share just a few items, in case others can use it
Margie at Gene's Shoes on Main Street St. Charles checks with shoe manufacturers to find safe shoes. She's also found latex free socks a bit warmer than the Buster Brown cotton ones. http://www.genesshoes.com
Decent Exposures http://www.decentexposures.com can make latex-free undergarments and swim wear
Plastibands, Sanford erasers, 3M Mousepads -- all good.
http://www.latexallergyresources.org/ for more info
I have compiled a list of “safe” restaurants --no balloons or latex gloves (vinyl ok) — but I always check each time I go in, as they sometimes change . ..

WOW on the review, Nancy. Can I say I'm not surprised? (as you know) I LOVE these books...okay ladies of the blog, all together, sigh the name...MICK SIGH

SMS - SOOO funny. At my house, when I want to buy something frivolous, (like a new laser printer), we don't need it. But if he wants buy something, it's something we cannot live without (how many fishing rods does one man need???)

And Josh is so right about illnesses...Phil is ALWAYS worse than I am, even if I in a hospital bed with an IV...he's just tougher. LOL

Great blog. Congrats again the review. I CANNOT wait for this...ummm got any ARC's taking up space at your house???

Congrats on the great review!

Did anyone mention SMS never, I repeat, never needs to read directions? And I definitely agree with the sick thing--a hangnail will put some on their deathbed.

Time management seems to be a major difficulty for SM...for example....

Stubborn man must "rest up" from dinner time until the news comes on and THEN begin this project (whatever it might be)..."But dear, isn't it LATE to be getting started on that." you say... "Oh no honey, this is only going to take a minute..." hours later as you drift off to sleep...

By the way... "Oh no honey, this is only going to take a minute..." always means 2 hours to 2 weeks - along with those many trips to the Home Depot!

Okay, my grandfather.

In his early sixties, after living in LA for years and smoking for many of them (he HAD stopped by this time), he had a massive heart attack. Except, you know, maybe it wasn't REALLY a heart attack. Maybe it was indigestion.

To check? He did push-ups. Hmm, the indigestion didn't get better.

He did go to the doctor, thank goodness, who confirmed it was NOT heartburn, but heart...blast? And the doctor asked him, do you usually do push-ups when you have indigestion? Um...NO!

Luckily, he survived the heart attack. I got to grow up with a wonderful grandfather. Very stubborn, but wonderful. Not one, though, who learned lessons well.

Oh, yes, there's more to this story.

After the heart attack, my grandfather became, shall we say, a tad obsessive about his pulse. He would check it all the time and tell us how great it was, how low. Then, maybe 15 years after the heart attack, it seemed to be getting quite low. And lower. And...lower. Did he go to a doctor?

You guessed right. No, he didn't do push-ups, but he went for a nice walk, uphill. He wanted to see if he could get his pulse to raise...above 40!

Luckily, one more time (or perhaps because he was married to one equally stubborn wife), he went to the doctor. Who informed him, duh!, that below 40 was probably too low for a man his age who didn't exercise all that much and who had had, remember, a pretty massive heart attack.

Pacemaker! And I got another decade of a wonderful, STUBBORN, grandfather. :)

Okay, everybody: Top that!

I can't top the comment above! Good grief. I can say that my hubs insisted his wallet was in the house the other day, even when I asked if he'd left it in the car. Anyone want to guess where it was? *g*
And Romona? I bought MY OWN hammer!

Sorry -- late to the party, as I was in Palm Springs, and no internet service --

Yes, Nancy, yes. All too true. But that REVIEW! Woo-HOO!

Well having a husband that split his skull open coming up through a window opening (installing a new window), and saying, oh no it's just a flesh wound...and 22 staples later I have a man with SMS. And that's ok with me...as long as he listens...Once in a while.

Becky, I love the push-up cure for your grandfather! It's a classic.

Miss Fix-it, you've definitely got a Stubborn Man on your hands!

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My husband is the POSTER -CHILD for SMS ! He has had 3 heart attacks and only went to the doctor for 1 of them ! When he went last time- he only did so because my sister (doctor) and her hubby- (doctor) called him and bugged him until he went ...3 days later !!! UGHH !! You talk about a jackass ! He just complained to be about "indegestion" and blood clot symptoms- but said he refused to go and that making him would "and I quote..."make things worse" ??????

WTF? How can preventing death make things worse?

What am I supposed to do? he will NOT listen to me and I don't want him to die- I love him !! He is on a death kick -and I am helpless to do anything- plus he smokes !!! and won't quit-

What do I do?

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